Seared Polenta with Spicy Heirloom Tomato Sauce


This simple, wholesome seared polenta recipe exemplifies the amazing family bond behind Straight from the Earth: Irresistible Vegan Recipes for Everyone, a collaborative cookbook by the mother-daughter duo of the Earthbound Farms.

Seared Polenta with Spicy Heirloom Tomato Sauce - vegan recipe by Earthbound Farms founder, Myra Goodman

This seared polenta dish was Marea’s creation, but as she notes below, the highlight is her mom Myra’s heirloom tomato sauce.

This dish will warm your soul and win the hearts of your favorite omnivores. A plate of crispy pan-fried polenta cakes topped with heirloom tomato sauce is an entree to satisfy even the pickiest eater (and it’s certified kid-friendly by my cousin, Nina Harmer).

This dish is special to our whole family. We all adore the tomato sauce, a recipe my mom developed long before we decided to write this cookbook together, and we make it with tomatoes my dad grows in our garden. The seared polenta cooks quickly, but it needs an hour or two to cool in the fridge, so we recommend making it ahead of time or letting it cool while you cook the tomato sauce. Topped with toasted pine nuts and fresh parsley, my mom’s sauce pairs perfectly with my seared polenta cakes—making this recipe an example of our creative mother-daughter collaboration.

For more on Straight from the Earth by Myra and Marea Goodman, see the recipe post with their Vegan Blackberry Bran Muffins.

Special Diet Notes & Options: Marea’s Seared Polenta

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, optionally gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, vegan, vegetarian, and generally top food allergy-friendly. 

For soy-free seared polenta, substitute another unsweetened milk alternative for the soymilk, preferably one with a little body, like coconut milk beverage.

Seared Polenta with Spicy Heirloom Tomato Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe from Straight from the Earth: Irresistible Vegan Recipes for Everyone, Chronicle Books, 2014. Reprinted with permissions. Note that the prep and cook times do not include cooling time for the polenta or preparation of the sauce, if using Myra Goodman's Spicy Heirloom Tomato Sauce instead of store-bought.
Serves: 4 as an entree or 8 as a side dish
  • 2 cups plain unsweetened soymilk (see post notes above for soy-free)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup corn grits/polenta
  • ¼ cup whole-wheat pastry flour or corn flour (for gluten-free)
  • Canola oil for frying
  • Spicy Heirloom Tomato Sauce or good-quality jarred marinara sauce, heated
  • 1 cup (30 g) chopped fresh flatleaf parsley
  • ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
  1. Grease a 9x9-inch baking pan with olive oil.
  2. To make the polenta, combine the soymilk, olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan, and bring them to a simmer over medium heat. At the same time, bring a second pot of water to a boil.
  3. Slowly whisk the polenta into the soymilk–olive oil mixture in the medium saucepan. Continue whisking until the mixture is smooth, reducing the heat to low to avoid spattering. Cook until the polenta grains are tender, about 15 minutes, whisking regularly (it should have the consistency of cream of wheat). If it gets very thick before the polenta is fully cooked, add additional boiling water, ¼ cup at a time. Immediately pour the polenta into the prepared pan.
  4. Cool the polenta for about 20 minutes, then refrigerate until the it is cool, 1 to 2 hours.
  5. Cut the cold polenta into eight equal triangles using a sharp knife. First cut a vertical line down the middle, followed by a horizontal line that divides the polenta into four equal squares. Then make two diagonal cuts from corner to corner to create eight triangles.
  6. Sprinkle the flour on a flat plate and dredge each polenta triangle in flour. Ready a plate lined with several layers of paper towels.
  7. Place a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat and film it with a thin layer of canola oil. Sear the polenta triangles on each side until they are crispy and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add more oil as needed between batches. Transfer the seared polenta to the paper towel–lined plate to absorb excess oil.
  8. To assemble the dish, place two polenta triangles on each plate. Top with hot tomato sauce. Sprinkle with the parsley and pine nuts, and serve immediately.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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